German Grammar: "Nein", "nicht" oder "kein"
"Nein", "nicht" or "kein"?

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German Grammar: "Nein", "nicht" oder "kein"
"Nein", "nicht" or "kein"?

Before we start, do you know how many English words we have to negate a sentence?
Ummm let's see. No, not, never, none, nobody, nothing...?
Phew! In German we have only three: NICHT, NEIN, and KEIN!
Möchtest du ein Bier?
Would you like a beer?
» Nein, danke!
No, thank you!
» Ich trinke nicht.
I don't drink.
» Ich mag kein Bier.
I don't like beer. (Literally: I like no beer.)
1. When do we use "nein"?
Nein is used exclusively to answer yes/no-questions, we never use it in the middle of a sentence.
Lernst du Deutsch?
Are you learning German?
» Nein.
2. When do we use "kein/keine"?
We use kein/keine before nouns:
Ich habe ein Auto.Ich habe kein Auto.
Ich habe eine Limousine.Ich habe keine Limousine.
3. When do we use "nicht"?
For all the rest.
For example:
  • to negate verbs: Ich trinke nicht.
  • to negate adverbs: Ich wohne nicht hier.
  • to negate adjectives: Wir sind nicht alt.
Hey, that seems pretty easy. Thank goodness there's only three!
Great, right? You can practice by making a positive sentence and then negating it. You'll learn it quickly as well, we use this in daily life all the time.
For the Grammar Nerds

1. What is a verb?
A word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, such as hear, learn, or happen. 2. What is an adjective?
A word naming an attribute of a noun, such as sweet, blue, or magical.
3. What is an adverb?
Adverbs provide information about: manner: He spoke slowly. place: We met there. time: We will meet tomorrow. degree: It was quite interesting.